Wednesday 11 January 2006

The Editor

Financial Times

Number One Southwark Bridge




Business believes 2006 will prove a decisive test of the government’s better regulation credentials. The past twelve months were full of deregulatory promises; this year we look to the Government to start delivering on these promises to reduce administrative burdens.

For this to happen, we recognise that business must play its part.

Business operates on a “what gets measured, gets done” basis. We are encouraged that the effort to plan and then implement reductions in administrative burdens is already underway, through a nationwide survey to establish how much time and money businesses must expend to demonstrate compliance, and to identify which regulations impose the greatest burdens.

Establishing this baseline will be an essential start if the sustained assault on administrative burdens, which the government has promised, is to be credible and its progress measurable.

We therefore urge all UK businesses to seize the opportunity to participate in the survey if they are contacted this month and asked to help.

We are confident that business has the appetite for regulatory reform and will rise to this challenge. But ultimate responsibility for delivery of regulatory reform rests with government.

Businesses are much more likely to play ball if they see demonstrable action that government is serious about deregulation. It must stick to its challenging timetable and ambition to achieve a 25% reduction in bureaucracy over the next five years. The definitive test of the Government’s better regulation credentials will be its ability to secure lasting culture change in attitudes to risk and regulation in Whitehall and regulators.

We welcome the Legislative & Regulatory Reform Bill and the arrival of the Better Regulation Commission, which has now assumed an expanded remit to act as watchdog and critical friend to the Government in the regulation arena. We wish Rick Haythornthwaite, the businessman leading it, and his fellow Commissioners a fair wind.

Business threw down a gauntlet to the Government on the burden of regulation, which is stifling our ability to innovate and compete on the global stage. It accepted our challenge; and 2006 is delivery year. The Government’s efforts on deregulation will have our wholehearted support, so long as it keeps its eye on the ball and keeps listening to business.

Yours faithfully,

Emmeline Owens, Head of Economic Affairs, BCC

Matthew Fell, Head of Corporate Affairs, CBI

Nick Goulding, Chief Executive, FPB

John Walker, Policy Chairman, FSB

James Walsh, Head of European Regulatory Affairs, IoD